LucasArts' Secret History #8: Day of the Tentacle Trivia! Secrets! Sex!


Although it's probably unnecessary to list it here, this game features a unique aster egg: if you use the computer in Weird Ed's bedroom, the original PC version of Maniac Mansion will launch. Upon hitting CTRL+C, you will return to DOTT. This "game-within-a-game" is listed plainly on the game's cover, and is probably one of the best extra features ever. (SCUMMVM does not support playing MM during DOTT gameplay, but the source files are still there and it can be run separately.)

None of the Maniac Mansion team worked on this game, although Tim Schafer worked as a coder on the NES port of the original.

The first game on which Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman served as project leaders. They've both cited it as the most enjoyable game they've ever worked on, and Dave Grossman has proudly called it "probably the best thing I've ever done."

If you "Talk to" Weird Ed's computer, Bernard will say, "Hello, little computer. I respect you, even though you only have 64k of memory." This is of course the amount of memory possessed by a Commodore 64, the original release platform for Maniac Mansion.

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You can tell Nurse Edna that your name is "Threepwood" when Bernard reintroduces himself to her.

When looking at the horse dentures, Hoagie refers to a fellow roadie named Eddie who "eats raw sewage on stage." This may possibly be a reference to Eddie Riggs, future Schafer character who stars in Brutal Legend.

Schafer has validated a fan theory that Hoagie and Ben Throttle from Full Throttle are brothers. Schafer explained that Ben's full name is "Ruben"; their mother named them both after sandwiches.

From an interview with Dave Grossman by Adventure Gamers:

DOTT originally had SIX kids, and you were going to get to choose three, just like in Maniac Mansion, with different puzzles and stuff depending on who you chose. We cut it down to three in order to maintain our sanity, mainly from an animation standpoint. Razor, from the original Maniac, did not make the final cut, along with two of the new kids: Chester, a cadaverous poet/artiste, and Moonglow, an earthy girl with sandals. Chester, with a bit of makeup, was eventually recast as Red Edison's twin sons, but poor Moonglow wound up robbing 7-11s in a low-rent action game.

A limited release version of this game came packaged in a tall, vertical prism shaped package. This "triangle box" release is a highly sought after collectible that commands top dollar when sold on eBay.

Dan Connors, who would go on to become the co-founder and CEO of Telltale Games, was a tester on this game.

Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman both played equal roles as project leaders of the game, and as such their names are reversed in order in their two appearances in the opening credits. Furthermore, the game randomizes which one comes first in the initial appearance. (In other words, when the game lists the project leaders as Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman at the beginning of the credits, it's listed as Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer at the end, and vice versa. It ensures things are more fair than the case might have been in movie credits!)

Chuck the Plant makes arguably his final LEC appearance in this game easily viewable in the present day mansion's lobby. His first appearance was in Maniac Mansion. He has appeared in many projects from other studios, and also appeared in the fifth Monkey Island game, Tales of Monkey Island, developed by Telltale.

Tim Schafer pitched a sequel to this game among one of six pitches he was obligated to put together, which included a third Monkey Island game, some sort of spy game, and what would become Full Throttle and Grim Fandango.

In 1994/1995, a man named Aaron Giles joined LucasArts with the job of porting a number of their titles to the Macintosh. Although it was not requested by management, Giles made Mac ports of Day of the Tentacle as well as Sam & Max Hit the Road in his "spare time," simply because he loved the games so much, and he eventually convinced the powers-that-be to sell the ports officially. A Mac user himself, he also went above and beyond in ensuring that the Maniac Mansion easter egg would be carried over to the Mac port (an effort which including writing an emulator), a feature which was assumed would be dropped, since Maniac Mansion had never previously been given a Mac port.

The casting of WKRP in Cincinnati star Richard Sanders as Bernard Bernouli was suggested by Dave Grossman.

Like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the floppy disk version of the game featured a copy-protection, whereas the CD-ROM version does not. (Commercially available CD burners were unheard of back then.)

Though it wasn't shipped, a 5.25" floppy disk version of the game existed. It spanned eight disks in this format and was only available by mail from LEC.

Aside from the occasional reference, there is little connection between this game and Maniac Mansion, which it is officially a sequel to. This is addressed using a rather meta strategy: by treating Maniac Mansion itself as a game in the DOTT universe, even making it a plot point. In official documentation, the characters actually refer to the Edison mansion as "The Maniac Mansion." DOTT is so successfully standalone that many have played through it not knowing that it is a sequel.

Bernard's admiration for the funnel he finds in the pantry is probably a reference to Bernoulli's principle.

Max of "Sam & Max" makes his appearance in a portrait that decorates the second floor hallway of the 18th century Edison mansion. At the time mostly known for such cameos, Sam and Max were getting their own graphic adventure treatment in the simultaneously developed Sam & Max Hit the Road.

When Laverne microwaves the frozen hamster, she makes a speech to the player about the dangers of 20th century microwaves, and how they could really "pop a hamster." This is likely a tongue-in-cheek reference to the brouhaha Nintendo made over the ability to blow up Weird Ed's hamster in the original version of the game. They were so upset upon discovering the feature in the NES port that international versions of the cartridge had the ability removed. (Since the North American version was not successful enough to merit a second printing, all NTSC cartridges include the controversial feature.)

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More on the fate of Ed's old hamster is discussed in conversation with the character in his bedroom. Ed tells Bernard that he used to have a white hamster with spots (an accurate description of the pet in the original game), but that "something…happened…to him" and that the sound he associates with the traumatic ordeal is the "DING!" of a microwave. It's also implied that Ed has undergone tremendous psychological torment over the experience.

People dressed in Purple Tentacle costumes have been known to terrorize the floors of gaming conventions.

Some guy actually made a Day of the Tentacle wallpaper for his entire room. (See next page.)

1-800-STARWARS, the number that the Couch Potato Home Shopping Network host directs to call to order the diamond, was the LucasArts contact line.

In the original game, Green Tentacle's band is named "G.T. and the Suction Cups," but here it is "G.T. and the Sushi Platters."

The game's title is likely a reference to the John Wyndham novel Day of the Triffids, in which the title creatures decide to take over the world.

Like in most LEC games, Star Wars references are abound, among them a Darth Vader calendar in Fred's office and a Storm Trooper helmet in Green Tentacle's bedroom. Additionally, Bernard exclaims excitedly when he sees that the date on one of the vending machine quarters is 1977, the release year of Star Wars.

"Look behind you! A three-headed monkey!" appears in this game as a dialog line Bernard can deliver to the triangle shaped group of ten tentacles at the end of the game.

Chuck Jones, the stylistic influence on this game, was given a demo of the game in the hopes that he'd say something that could be used as a marketing blurb. "We should have just come out and asked him for one. Still, it was fun hanging out with him," recalls Tim.

The simultaneously made Zombies Ate My Neighbors, a fun top-down shooter game that LEC developed for Konami, features a Day of the Tentacle-themed bonus level, complete with tentacles as enemies.

Bernard estimates the amount of quarters from the vending machine that he puts in the dryer for it to run two hundred years to add up to $876,600. The math works.

Links and Resources

  • DOTTcom - The excellent and dead fansite of the Maniac Mansion games.
  • The Mansion - Another excellent and also dead site dedicated to the games
  • Maniac Zombies - To our knowledge the only active site for the franchise. It also cover Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
  • Aaron's Computing History - Former LEC Mac programmer Aaron Giles discusses his history at the company.
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